The anaphase-promoting complex/cyclosome (APC/C) regulates multiple stages of the cell cycle, most prominently mitosis. We describe zebrafish with mutations in two APC/C subunits, Cdc16 and Cdc26, whose phenotypes reveal a multifaceted set of defects resulting from the gradual depletion of the APC/C. First, loss of the APC/C in dividing cells results in mitotic arrest, followed by apoptosis. This defect becomes detectable in different organs at different larval ages, because the subunits of the APC/C are maternally deposited, are unusually stable, and are depleted at uneven rates in different tissues. Second, loss of the APC/C in quiescent or differentiated cells results in improper re-entry into the cell cycle, again in an apparently tissue-specific manner. This study is the first demonstration of both functions of the APC/C in a vertebrate organism and also provides an illustration of the surprisingly complex effects that essential, maternally supplied factors can have on the growing animal over a period of 10 days or longer.